He is discussing a famous author of his day and makes this comment on page 75:
“The artistic temperament is a disease that afflicts amateurs.”I have been around a lot of people who are wannabe’s. They want to be musicians. They want to be writers. They want to be basketball legends. Often what they succeed in being is pains in the neck. Chesterton goes on and says,
“Artists of a large and wholesome vitality get rid of their art easily, as they breathe easily, or perspire easily. But in artists of less force, the thing becomes a pressure, and produces a definite pain, which is called the artistic temperament.”They tend to be moody, mercurial and unreliable. I remember when I was supplying the music in our church for the five year old's. I am not someone who needs snotty nosed little kids hanging all over me but I can be civil for a period of time. I took my guitar and we had a great time singing and jumping. To this day the mention of “Father Abraham” makes me shudder. One time the children’s pastor came to me and said that some people from the music department wanted to come and help. It was fine by me. They came in the next Sunday. These people were gifted. I felt very comfortable taking a back seat. I honestly had hopes it would work, but I know people with artistic temperament.
So I brought my guitar the next Sunday. You see, I know that people with the artistic temperament have a tendency to not show up when there is little applause. They are great at singing solo’s but tend to be AWOL when toilets need to be scrubbed and doing music for children is closer to cleaning toilets. The appreciation of five year old's isn’t a real high. Sure enough. None of the artists showed up. We went on as usual. I am sure that they were able to talk about how they were involved in the children’s program for weeks.
“There can be no stronger manifestation of the man who is a really great artist than the fact that he can dismiss the subject of art; that he can, upon due occasion, wish art at the bottom of the sea.”Then my mind made a jump, as it is wont to do. I started thinking about how often we as believers develop what I might call a “spiritual temperament.” We sometimes have a tendency to look at ourselves as spiritual and it becomes the tail that wags the dog. We become people that like to lecture others on right and wrong. We become holier than thou. We have a tendency to become authorities in public. I know people that I dread to talk with. If you say it is a nice day they are soon giving a lecture on how we will one day be in the City that needs no sun. If I mention going to get a cup of coffee they wax eloquent on the Wedding Feast of the Lamb. They love to find you in corners where everyone else in the room is glad to leave you as the libation to the gods.
I think we need to be like true artists. We can live it and we know how to talk about it, but we just need to be normal people with a holy seasoning. We need to be salt, not habaneros. Yes, we need to talk about Jesus but it needs to be a natural outflow of our personality, not a forced caricature.
Be a blessing.
Chesterton, G.K. Heretics. Gutenberg Project.
homo unius libri